·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

Trump Administration Backs Up Ban on Transgender People Serving in the Military With “Expert” Study

— March 26, 2018

The Trump administration released two documents on Friday outlining a White House ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Advocates for the LGBTQ community have reportedly called the new measure more discriminatory than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ But, as NBC News reports, recent court rulings have prevented the ban from taking full effect.

The first memo, signed by President Trump, states that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria – individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery – are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”

And another document, entitled “Department of Defense Report and Recommendations on Military Service by Transgender Persons,” details specific policy suggestions for enlistment. The 46-page report, excerpts of which were published by NBC News, concluded that “accommodating gender transition could impair unit readiness,” “undermine unit cohesion” and “lead to disproportionate costs.”

“This new policy,” read an executive summary, “will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards – including those regarding the use of medical drugs – equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen.”

Sean Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said the policy is essentially a ‘categorical’ ban on transgender military service. Unlike ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ says Minter, the new policy requires armed forces recruits to meet the physical standards applied to other members of their birth sex.

“It means you can’t be transgender,” said Minter.

Then-candidate Donald Trump speaking at an event in 2016. Image via Flickr/Michael Vadon. (CCA-BY-2.0)

Under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, “the government never went so far as to say that being gay or lesbian is not a legitimate identity and [gays and lesbians] should undertake therapy to become straight, but that is what this report is saying about transgender people.”

Requests for the administration to identify appointees to a panel of policy “experts” were dodged by the Justice Department.

Slate News published an unverified report naming several prominent anti-LGBT figureheads as members – among them, Vice President Mike Pence and anti-transgender activist Ryan T. Anderson.

But unless the Trump administration can triumph in court, there’s little they or the Pentagon can do to halt the recruitment of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces.

In July, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Trump’s initial directive on transgender servicepersons was likely unconstitutional. That ruling, hailed as minor victor by Minter, condemned the president’s decision as overly-broad and a possible violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Natalie Nardecchia, a senior attorney with LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group Lambda Legal, hopes she and her fellow advocates can convince the judiciary to issue a permanent injunction against Trump’s transgender ban.

“We are asking for the court to grant a summary judgment – without going to trial – and to permanently prevent the ban from going into law,” she said.

While not certain what the outcome may be, Nardecchia said she’s ‘optimistic.’

“We will keep fighting until we get a final judgment.”


Court partially blocks Trump’s transgender military ban

NBC News

Transgender Vet Calls Trump’s Ban ‘Nonsense’

Trump’s transgender military ban ‘worse than don’t ask, don’t tell,’ advocates say

White House announces policy to ban most transgender people from serving in military


Join the conversation!